So, we get an answer from the Supreme Court, right? I earlier argued that no one knows what the heck the law is, and that all by itself is really bad for potential and current candidates. You can't CAMPAIGN without (maybe) breaking the law.
According to the NYTimes, here is what happened today:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - The Supreme Court signaled a willingness today to revisit its landmark 2003 decision on the use of money in political campaigns, directing a lower court to reconsider a ruling against a Wisconsin anti-abortion group.
In a unanimous, unsigned opinion only three pages long, the justices told a three-judge federal court panel in Washington to take another look at the suit brought by the group, the Wisconsin Right to Life organization. The justices said that the 2003 decision "did not purport to resolve" all future challenges to the legislation.
The justices' decision, coming only a week after they heard the case, could indicate that the issue of campaign finance will soon be back before them as the Supreme Court goes through a period of transition.
At issue is a section of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, more familiarly known as the McCain-Feingold law, after its main sponsors, Senators John S. McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin.
The law was a reaction to at least three decades worth of heated debate over how money, sometimes called "the mother's milk of politics," should be raised and spent during political campaigns. Underlying the debate were charges that money has often been a corrupting influence in the political process - and counter-arguments that restrictions on campaign spending and advertising violated First Amendment rights of free speech and association.
On Dec. 11, 2003, the Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, that the core of the McCain-Feingold law was constitutional. Part of the law established a new category of "electioneering communications," or television ads that refer to specific candidates for federal office and that are broadcast in the relevant market within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.
Sigh. Here we don't go again. The current situation is unworkable. When Alito is on the court, the whole thing may come crashing down, and we'll be back at Buckley v. Valeo.